Republicans’ Top Ten Pundits, FOX News’ Coverage of Potential GOP 2012 Candidates

Although not a GOP affiliate, ConservativeHome, a new website that launched on November 15, 2010, hopes to spur the ongoing debate about the future of the Republican Party and conservatism. They also believe the GOP should function as a broad-based coalition to ensure long-term success. CH recently polled 1,152 Republican activists (identified by YouGov America) on who they consider to be the top three political commentators. Results were released yesterday; here are the top ten:

The Top Ten Pundits Among Republican Activists

The total percentages for each of the top ten were*:

•Rush Limbaugh: 41%
•Glenn Beck: 33%
•Charles Krauthammer: 29%
•Bill O’Reilly: 24%
•Sean Hannity: 21%
•Newt Gingrich: 16%
•Michelle Malkin: 16%
•Mike Huckabee: 13%
•Ann Coulter: 13%
•George Will: 13%

* There were two phases to the voting process. Last week Panel members were asked to nominate favorite commentators. This week Panel members were presented with a list, derived from their nominations, and asked to vote for their three favorite.

•The list reveals the massive gap between broadcast pundits and newspaper commentators.

•Limbaugh, for example, was named as a favorite by 41% of ConservativeHome’s Republican Panel.

•Worryingly, columnists often regarded as among the most thoughtful conservatives did not fare well. David Brooks of the New York Times only mustered a mention from 1.3% of the panel (14 people). Ross Douthat, also at the NYT, won just four votes and Mike Gerson, Washington Post writer and former speechwriter to President Bush, gets just three mentions.

•Another former Bush speechwriter and Rush Limbaugh’s leading critic, David Frum, only gets three mentions. Peggy Noonan, however, gets favorited 35 times.

The ticket to high status is clearly Fox News. One of only two upmarket newspaper columnist to appear in the top ten being Charles Krauthammer, who combines his syndicated Washington Post column with his Fox punditry. He was named by 29% of grassroots Republicans. The other broadsheet columnist, at number ten, is George Will, syndicated Washington Post Op-Ed writer and ABC News veteran.

(my emphasis)
To join YouGov’s Republican Panel click here.

Regarding FOX News’ high status…

Liberal advocacy group, Media Matters, has been keeping tabs on FOX News airtime featuring John Bolton, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee. Although Media Matters receives funding from George Soros, their conclusions are worth considering: Because of his weekend television show, Huckabee registers more time than the others. Estimates are that these five potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates were on the air nearly 66 hours in the first 10 months of the year. With current advertising rates, the five of them – thus far – have received at least $40 million worth of free advertising.

DAVID BAUDER -AP News
Nov 18, 2010

[...] For Fox, locking up these prominent Republicans for roles on the network is a good way to appeal to a viewing audience dominated by conservatives, Graham said. The payoff comes on nights like the midterm elections, a good-news night for Republicans where Fox outdrew every broadcast and cable network covering the races in prime time.

“They see it as trying to even out the bias,” he said. “There is just a remarkable amount of promotion of Obama and it continues.”
[...]

Fox’s stable of potential candidates raises questions for the network and political process moving forward. Pat Buchanan, who worked at CNN in the 1990s, took periodic breaks from “Crossfire” when he announced candidacies.

The questions are similar for Fox: Will these politicians leave Fox’s employ if they run for president? Will they delay announcing candidacies in order to get more time on the air? Will Fox feel comfortable keeping these politicians as employees if a candidacy is announced?

The exposure could be a real advantage for these politicians, and the lack of it a detriment for potential candidates such as Mitt Romney who are not in Fox’s employ. As it is, candidates will be going out of their way to appeal to Fox personalities like Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity, Rabin-Havt said.

“There never has been a network that has so dominated a political process,” he said.

There’s also the possibility that GOP candidates in the upcoming political season may avoid other news organizations to conduct much of their campaigning before a Fox News audience, he said.

Huckabee appeared onscreen on Fox for more than 38 hours through Oct. 31, according to Media Matters. Palin and Gingrich each had nine hours, Santorum had five hours and Bolton, four.

(my emphasis)

Fox News contributors sign contracts forbidding them from appearing on any network other than Fox. Their television coverage serves as a platform for their messages. Politico quoted Jim Dyke (GOP strategist) making a germane point: “As it becomes clear somebody is looking at running, Fox gets into a bit of a box because doesn’t it become an in-kind contribution if they’re being paid?”

Perhaps this is why Governor Romney joked with Jay Leno: “If you ever see me sign up for a gig on Fox News, it’ll be a clear indication that I’ve decided to run for president. That’s not in the cards anytime soon – thanks.

Questions…

1. We clearly don’t want to alienate FOX News, but has their approach to the 2012 potential presidential GOP candidates been fair and balanced thus far?

2. If not, do you see their coverage on the 2012 GOP possibilities becoming more/less fair and balanced in the future?

3. Do you agree with Conservative Home’s Top 10 Pundits poll results?

4. If not, which pundit(s) would you add/remove?

► Jayde Wyatt